Warmer weather is on its way which means people will start to turn on their air conditioning systems. After having the AC turned off all winter, however, some individuals will turn their cooling system on to find that it needs to be repaired.
Air conditioning repairs can get pricey, especially if you don’t have a reliable handyman. Some AC companies will attempt to sell you an entirely new unit even if you don’t need one. Before you call your local heating and air company, why not try a DIY air conditioning repair?
DIY Air Conditioning Repairs
DIY (or do-it-yourself) projects can seem a bit daunting. The internet has made it easy to create, fix, repair just about anything, including your AC. If you are comfortable working with electricity and can spend about $50 on parts there’s a good chance you can fix your air conditioning yourself. Whether you have low cooling or no cooling at all you can probably perform your very own DIY air conditioning repair. Here’s how:
Check the Furnace
Before trying any DIY air conditioning repair you should first make sure that the furnace isn’t the problem. To check your furnace set the temperature on your AC low. If you hear the furnace (or fan) kick on you can proceed with attempting to fix your AC yourself. If the furnace does not kick on you will likely need a professional to fix your problem.
Start With the Easy Stuff
Once you’ve checked that the furnace is still working, move on to the easy stuff (the air conditioning repairs you can do yourself). First, be sure you shut off the power before starting any work on your air conditioning unit. Once you’ve powered down you can clean the condenser coils. (If you’re unsure of where these are or what they look like there are great Youtube videos explaining it.)
After cleaning the condenser coils and before you start your repairs, check the fuses. A blown fuse could be the bulk of your issue (if there is one) and it is also a sign of a larger component, such as a relay or capacitor gone bad. Don’t simply replace the fuse without making the other proper replacements.
If you see a blown fuse (and even if you don’t) the contactor and the start/run capacitors are the parts of an AC unit that fail the most often. Since these parts need replaced every once in a while you’ll need a little information.
Find the nameplate on the condensing unit and snap a photo (or write down) of the make, model and serial number of the unit. You can get the parts at your local hardware store, AC/heating dealer or online (if you can wait for delivery). Thankfully these parts are fairly inexpensive, making your DIY air conditioning repair about $225 (on average) less than calling in a handyman.
Once you’ve got the parts you can check out some step-by-step written instructions on how to replace the parts for your specific model or find a video on Youtube.
Test Out Your Repairs
Complete the repairs as instructed (most forums and sites suggest the entire process will take a couple hours from cleaning the condenser on). Then test out your repairs by turning the power back on and trying out the AC. Give it about 10 minutes or so to fully kick on (since the power was off).
If your DIY air conditioning repair failed, don’t worry you still may be able to get away fairly cheap by checking the condenser fan motor ($150 or so). However, don’t assume that this is the next logical step.
If All Else Fails…
If you don’t think that your condenser fan motor needs repaired and your DIY fixes didn’t do the job it is probably time to call the heating and air company. Although it can be costly, having a working air conditioning system in the summer is a must for many people (especially in the South where there are weather restrictions from the heat). If you’re worried about the overall cost, be sure to compare prices around town or attempt to find a private party to do the work for less and, if all else fails, you can probably ask about financing options through the AC company.
Having appliance trouble is no fun but if you can manage a DIY air conditioning repair you can save a ton of money. For more ways to save money, check out these articles:
Photo: Department of Energy